Lack of credit disbursing experience makes the postal department with its vast network of offices around the country better suited to be run as a payment bank and not as a full-fledged universal bank, a top Finance Ministry official said here today.
"The Department of Posts may be considered as a payment bank and they are working towards that. The problem with post offices is that they handle only one-side of banking, that is, the deposit side; but they don't handle the credit side," Financial Services Secretary GS Sandhu said at an event here.
"So by making them (postal department) a payment bank, they will be able to work in that area they are best at. That may happen soon," Sandhu said.
The Department of Posts with its network of more than 1.35 lakh post offices across the country had made concerted attempts to enter the banking sector by applying for a universal licence.
While allotting licences in April this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left it to the government to decide the fate of the Department of Posts' application.
The Department of Posts has been collecting deposits, offering fixed as well as recurring deposits accounts to people for a long time now.
The postal department will complete 160 years of glorious service on Wednesday. However, many of us are unaware that the Sangam City has been a vital spot in this journey and has many firsts to its credit. From the launch of first horse cart postal service to air-mail and railway-mail service, the city has always been the first choice.
The credit of launching horse cart service in 1841 goes to prominent trader of chowk area Lala Thantimal. Owing to diversified business, he felt the need for a speedy mail service and hence the first horse cart service came into existence. His mail service also used to carry letters of public but for a price.
The launch of service led to Lala Thantimal's business growing by leaps and bound. Later, he finally settled in Kanpur. "A decade later, he started postal company 'Inland Transit Company'. Initially, the company carried mails and parcels between Kanpur and Calcutta (now Kolkata). The services were later expanded to Meerut, Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi," said director, postal services, Krishna Kumar Yadav. Thantimal's great grandson Vinod Tandon now lives in Kanpur but is engaged in separate business. Incidentally, Yadav has conducted an extensive research on the topic.
In another first, the Britishers in 1864 launched railway-sorting section between Allahabad and Kanpur. "The section was later converted into rail mail service which now occupies over 70% of postal delivery services in the country," said the director.
The world of postal services was, however, revolutionized by world's first airmail service. It too was started from Allahabad to satellite town of Naini in 1911 and carried letters of freedom fighter Motilal Nehru written to his son Jawaharlal Nehru.
"The first air mail took off from the Parade Ground in February 18, 1911. It carried 6,500 letters and after 13 minutes it landed near the Central Jail in Naini," said Kumar, adding Allahabad was the most suitable place for starting the postal service as it was situated between Kolkata and New Delhi and between Mumbai and New Delhi.
It may be mentioned here that a clergyman of the Holy Trinity Church, currently situated on Sarojini Naidu Marg, requested Englishman Walter Windham to participate in an exhibition on Parade Ground with his aircraft. There, Windham performed an aerial show to raise funds for the construction of a hostel. As a part of their contribution, a lot of people had also posted letters with postage stamps which were delivered to Naini.